Leave it to Bob Knight to shake up the Big 12 Conference.
Knight, never one to mince words, was outspoken when asked about the situation at Baylor, where Carlton Dotson is facing murder charges in the death of teammate Patrick Dennehy. The death led to the firing of coach Dave Bliss and the transfer of most of the Bears’ talent.
Knight, Texas Tech’s coach, said he thought the NCAA’s softening of transfer rules, allowing several former Bears to change schools without sitting out the year that is normally required, was unwise.
“I think it was a big mistake to allow kids to transfer from Baylor without sitting a year like everyone else,” Knight said in Monday’s media conference call. “And giving kids eligibility back when they lost it was not a good decision.”
Baylor seniors Terrance Thomas and R.T. Guinn were found academically ineligible Jan. 3 and missed two weeks of competition. Both were reinstated Friday after the NCAA granted waivers of the academic eligibility rule for them.
Knight’s Red Raiders defeated Baylor 75-66 on Saturday despite 20 points from Thomas.
Baylor coach Scott Drew defended Knight’s right to his opinion, even if he disagreed with it.
“The great thing about him is that he always expresses his opinion,” Drew said. “The NCAA’s opinion wasn’t the same as his, but that’s his opinion.”
Iowa State coach Wayne Morgan, seemingly a neutral party in the matter, suggested the rules should sometimes bend in favor of the players.
“I don’t think there’s a coach in America who can predict what the NCAA is going to do and why they’re going to do it,” Morgan said. “It was probably good to let them have their eligibility. Any time something happens and you can give kids the benefit of the doubt, it’s a good thing.”
Knight had positive thoughts on the Bears, despite his views on the NCAA’s rulings.
“I think the team will play well and the coaches have done a very good job with what they have,” he said. “If the kids would have had to stay there with the way the rules are, they would have had a tremendous talent pool there.”
KLEIZA ROOKIE OF WEEK: Missouri freshman forward Linas Kleiza was named Big 12 Rookie of the Week for the second time Monday.
Kleiza scored seven points and 12 rebounds against Syracuse on Jan. 12 and followed that with 13 points and nine rebounds in an overtime win at Oklahoma on Saturday.
Kleiza is third in the conference in rebounding with 9.1 per game.
Oklahoma State junior guard John Lucas earned conference Player of the Week honors.
Lucas averaged 21 points in two wins last week and leads the conference with a 3-to-1 assists-to-turnover ratio.
QUICK TURNAROUND: After facing Colorado and Kansas State to open conference play, Kansas will meet the Buffaloes again Sunday and the Wildcats on Jan. 28. The Jayhawks will have completed their schedule against those two North Division rivals five games into conference play.
Coach Bill Self said he was confused when the schedule was set that way.
“I never could understand it,” he said. “It seems strange to me that a team you play once in a conference season you play in late February and a team you play twice you play in a two-week period in January.”
Self said such a structure could greatly benefit one team, if its opponent was hampered by injuries at the time.
“If we have two guys hurt and the other team is totally healthy, they’re going to catch us twice when we’re not at full speed,” he said.